Law Professor Says Pedophiles Are Not Criminals And Face Discrimination

Rutgers-Camden law professor Margo Kaplan has written an opinion piece for the New York Times that has understandably stirred up some controversy.

The article was essentially a defense of pedophiles, suggesting that pedophilia is a disorder that can be managed and not an actual crime. According to Kaplan, some people are just born with brains that are attracted to young children, and it really only becomes a problem if they act on it and hurt a child.

Kaplan says that it is important to make a distinction between pedophilia and child molestation because not all pedophiles act on their desires. She believes that pedophiles do not have control over their desires, and they can't help who they are attracted to. However, they needed to be able to learn to control their urges and not act on them.


Photo Credit: New York Times

"Pedophilia could result from a failure in the brain to identify which environmental stimuli should provoke a sexual response. M.R.I.s of sex offenders with pedophilia show fewer of the neural pathways known as white matter in their brains. Men with pedophilia are three times more likely to be left-handed or ambidextrous, a finding that strongly suggests a neurological cause," Kaplan said in her article.

Kaplan pointed to a group called "Virtuous Pedophiles" comprised of people who claim that they are attracted to children but would never act on it. She said that there are many people out there like this, and they are discriminated against. She went on to claim that they should be legally protected under "The Americans With Disabilities Act."

In a later interview with Philadelphia Magazine, Kaplan said that she got more support than she expected from her article.

sexual orientation

Photo Credit: Keith Negley NY Times

"I expected to get maybe 95% negative emails, but I’ve gotten so many positive ones. The online comments, though, are pretty uniformly negative, and a lot of people haven’t even read the article," she said.

"We need to treat pedophiles before they offend. People see the word “pedophile” and think “sex offender.” People choose to sex offend children. They do not choose to be pedophiles," she added.

This strange idea of pedophile acceptance is not limited to Kaplan. In fact, many public intellectuals have been raising similar arguments in recent years.

Last year, Mirjam Heine presented a TED X Talk called “Pedophilia is a natural sexual orientation” at the University of Würtzberg in Germany, which shared many of the same ideas contained in Kaplan's article.

Heine argued that pedophilia is a legitimate sexual orientation.

“According to current research pedophilia is an unchangeable sexual orientation just like, for example, heterosexuality. No one chooses to be a pedophile, no one can cease being one. The difference between pedophilia and other sexual orientations is that living out this sexual orientation will end in a disaster,” Heine suggested.

One thing that makes sense about this strategy is that it could make it easier to identify pedophiles and quarantine them from the rest of society, however, that does not seem to be what this movement has in mind.

Mark Horowitz is a graduate of Brandeis University with a degree in political science. Horowitz could have had a job at one of the top media organizations in the United States, but when working as an intern, he found that the journalists in the newsroom were confined by the anxieties and sensibilities of their bosses. Horowitz loved journalism, but wanted more freedom to pursue more complex topics than you would find on the evening news. Around the same time, he began to notice that there was a growing number of independent journalists developing followings online by sharing their in-depth analysis of advanced or off-beat topics. It wasn't long before Horowitz quit his internship with a large New York network to begin publishing his own material online.